Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Learning not to despair

The ecological news has been very dire the last couple of days. Sometimes I want to get the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope and the Orthodox Patriarchs and, I don't know, Rick Warren or somebody all in the same room and say, "Listen up. Stop quarrelling about all the issues before the Church that we are so caught up with and focus on one thing: saving the earth. Otherwise, we're not going to have a planet to have a church ON. Tell all the people that this is the great moral imperative that supercedes everything - yes, everything - else." But the quarrels will continue even if each one of those men secretly believes what I just said. And so, the following verse brings me both perspective and consolation:

The Fate of Elms

If they are doomed and all that can be done
Should fail, if they must die and disappear
And we must see them dying one by one,
Summer and fall and winter, year by year
Until there comes a summer so bereft
That over river, meadow, pasture height
No last and solitary elm is left
Lifting its leafy wings as if for flight—

Let us not make our grief for them too great
And say we wished that we had gone before,
Making the fate of elms too much our fate,
Seeing the always less and not the more.
Though elms may die, not everything must die:
Not their green memory against our sky.

-- Robert Francis


  1. Some weeks it seems as though all my class readings are about all that we are doing wrong and dire predictions for the future. This poem is a wonderful reminder that there is hope too. If you haven't read it already, I suggest E.O. Wilson's The Creation: An appeal to save all life on earth.

  2. I haven't read the book but I do know the name, E.O. Wilson. I may have read a review of it at some point.

  3. What a poignant and touching verse...again I say, Thank you Ellie.

    annie c

  4. you might like this blog:)



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